PLS (Poculi Ludique Societas) sponsors productions of early plays, from the beginnings of medieval drama to as late as the middle of the seventeenth century. The group had its origins in 1964-65 in a seminar on medieval drama conducted at the University of Toronto. For more than forty years, PLS has been associated with the university's Centre For Medieval Studies, offering a regular schedule of plays every year. Now, as part of the new Centre for Performance Studies in Early Theatre, PLS operates in affiliation with the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. PLS has toured in Canada, the United States and Europe. PLS also collaborates with the theatre history research project Records of Early English Drama (REED) at the University of Toronto.
Board of Directors 2011-2012
We produce plays from the period of approximately 1100 to 1650, and have been in the forefront of the rediscovery of the dramatic riches of this period. While the plays of classical Greece and Rome and those from Shakespeare's time are performed with some frequency, the great dramatic tradition of the intervening centuries has traditionally been ignored. For more than four decades PLS has performed some of the most vivid, powerful, and popular theatre in our heritage.
The foundations of Poculi Ludique Societas ("the cup and game society") were laid in a seminar in medieval drama given over forty years ago at the University of Toronto. A group of graduate students, fascinated by the theatrical power and the skilled stagecraft they found in the play they were required to produce as a seminar project, went on to experiment with and present more plays as an independent company.
We have staged nearly 200 productions since 1964, encompassing a total of over 300 plays, since some of these productions were stagings of major play-cycles, each comprised of 20-50 plays. We maintain strong links with the University of Toronto-based research project Records of Early English Dramaand the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, but as a community theatre company we also reach out to a wide non-academic audience. We have performed at Ontario medieval and folk festivals, the Toronto International Caravan, SummerWorks, local libraries and churches, and the Toronto Fringe Festival. We have toured by invitation to England, Ireland, Italy, and much of the United States and Canada.
The Big Shows:
PLS has led the way in the production of some of the largest-scale medieval plays and play-cycles. These shows can extend over several days, and attract thousands of spectators from all over the world. In 1977 we produced a three-day staging of the first complete York Cycle in over 400 years. We have also produced The Castle of Perseverance (1979), The Toronto (N-Town) Passion Play (1981), the Chester Cycle (1983), the first full-scale in-the-round production of the Towneley Cycle since the 16th century (1985), the N-Town Pageants (1988), and in 1998 the first complete one-day processional production of the York Cycle since 1569. The 1998 York Cycle involved over 500 performers and included performances by over 30 theatre companies from Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. Our last big outdoor production was the Digby Mary Magdalene in 2003. In May 2010 we are planning to re-mount the Chester Cycle.
Sidebar image: Medieval woodcut of the effecs of Venus. Source image from Godecookery.com